School Daze: How to Beat Fall Fatigue
Article contributed by Dr. Eric Plasker, Marietta, GA
The summer season is entering its twilight months. Kids are returning to school for another year of packed lunches, spelling tests, field trips, band concerts, sports practices, homework and report cards. Parents may be surprised at the lack of relief in their lives now that kids are back in class all day. In fact, all of the responsibilities that come with a new school year can mean a major stress increase after a summer spent at the pool. In my new book, The 100 Year Lifestyle, readers learn how to maintain high energy and low stress levels year round.
Learn to Say “No” Sometimes we feel pressured to be the best parent on the block. You don’t need to be a super parent—you just need to be a parent who cares. Throw a fun birthday party for your child, but purchase cupcakes at the bakery instead of making them from scratch. Volunteer to serve on two committees but only chair one. Forgo chaperoning your teenager’s school dance—you’ll have a quiet evening and he’ll be eternally grateful! Relieving yourself from constant duty is an effective parenting strategy and stress management technique. Your kids will appreciate your involvement more if it’s not excessive, and they’ll learn by example from your balanced schedule and well rounded life.
Take Care of Yourself on the Go
Between getting your kids ready for the bus, coordinating soccer car-pools, commuting to work and running your own errands, you may find yourself on the fritz this fall. Make a family schedule and post it where everyone can see. Set out outfits and pack lunches the night before school. Do small exercises like neck and ankle rolls, stretch a few times each day and walk around the office to keep your blood flowing.
During your daily commute, practice de-stressing techniques like meditating or learning a language on tape. Avoid jarring talk radio and listen to calm music or comedy soundtracks, since laughter is a proven de-stressor. Remember, the 100 Year Lifestyle includes taking smart measures to avoid preventable causes of death. All the organic blue-berries in the world won’t help if you’re distracted on the road by a cell phone or forget to fasten your seat belt! Practice defensive driving and smile at people who cut you off in traffic.
Eat Healthy the Easy Way
Even when you’re hurried, harried and hungry, there are little ways to be healthy—and grabbing fast food for dinner isn’t one of them! How can you be a health nut when you feel like you might be going nutty? Most grocery stores stock several pre-cut, pre-packaged, and pre-bagged fruit and vegetables that are great for healthy snacks on the go or starting dinner in record time. Instead of soda, choose pomegranate juice, which lowers cholesterol, or beet juice, which is packed with organic iron. Teach your older children simple ways to help start dinner, like making a salad, defrosting meat, or setting the table.
Make Time for Playtime
A major element of The 100 Year Lifestyle is making time to play and have fun. Blast groovy tunes from the past while you fold the laundry, ride your bike to the corner store instead of driving or go on a picnic with the kids. Take a creative writing class, try a new hobby like knitting or yoga, or even start finger painting—sans kids. Find out what makes you laugh out loud, feel inspired or come alive and then do it!
The key to beating fall fatigue and managing stress is spending time on yourself, even little moments. You can’t take care of others without taking of yourself first.